Chapter 4. Organize a Home Team
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Appoint a friend to pre-schedule a rotation of helpers
Even if you have very little time before your heart surgery, organize a Home Team before you go in. And if you are just home from the hospital, it’s not too late. Make a list of fifteen people, family and friends (but not your primary caregiver) who would be glad – even honored – to be called to help out. Pick a leader among these friends and engage her or him to contact the others about the tasks ahead. Set up a revolving schedule of assignments for your first three to four weeks at home. (Details below.)
A friend? Why not your primary caregiver?
Who will your primary caregiver be -- your spouse, your partner, a friend, another family member? The scenario is this. Suddenly your close personal ally has the extended responsibility for all previously shared arrangements – nursing aid, household tasks, transportation, medical and social plan coordination. This is why you line up a Home Team to pitch in. Your primary caregiver needs taking care of too. He or she is now “on” 24/7 and needs continuing acknowledgment, appreciation and love from you. Plan to regularly express your gratitude. Find out how s/he is feeling – every day. Though sometimes you won’t feel like it, remember to smile, and show you care!
Five basic ways the team can help
1. Preparing dinner nightly
Some friends will like to prepare a home cooked meal for both patient and caregiver, while others can pick up a heart healthy take-out meal. Since the reality of landing back home means the primary caregiver has antenna focused on you continuously, your loved one will appreciate a sit-down break at dinner time.
2. Providing emotional support and practical advice
During the many hours and days of convalescence, neither patient nor primary caregiver wants to feel isolated at home. Anticipate a buddy system in advance. Is there a friend who has been though open-heart surgery who will agree to check in with the patient regularly? Whom the heart patient can call spontaneously? Many smaller questions can be answered this way, by a friend or family member. Naturally, any substantial recovery question requires picking up the phone and calling your designated medical professional. Maybe you know, or know of, a former heart patient who also is a medical professional? Arrange chat times (perhaps twice weekly) with him or her. Primary caregiver and patient should also plan regular phone time with a best friend independently, to be free to let their hair down to tell it like it is!
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Copyright © 2006 Maggie Lichtenberg. All Rights Reserved.
The content in this chapter is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional counseling advice. The reader is encouraged to continually consult his or her physician on all health matters, especially symptoms that may require professional diagnosis and/or medical attention.